Indonesian security forces and emergency workers raced Monday to aid victims of a powerful earthquake on Lombok that killed at least 91 people, as strong aftershocks sparked terror on the holiday island that suffered another deadly quake just a week ago.
Rescuers searched for survivors in the rubble of houses, mosques and schools that were among the thousands of buildings destroyed in the disaster that struck on Sunday evening.
“The search and rescue team is still scouring the scene and evacuating (people),” national disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said. “We estimate the number of victims will rise.”
The quake triggered a tsunami warning, which was later cancelled, and was also felt on the neighbouring island of Bali, one of Southeast Asia’s leading destinations, where tourists ran onto the streets as the tremor struck.
The shallow 6.9-magnitude quake sent thousands of Lombok residents and tourists scrambling outdoors, where many spent the night as strong aftershocks including one of 5.3-magnitude continued to rattle the island.
The quake knocked out power in many areas, and parts of Lombok remained without electricity on Monday.
Hundreds of bloodied and bandaged victims were treated outside damaged hospitals in the main city Mataram and other hard-hit parts of the island. Patients lay on beds under makeshift wards sent up in tents, surrounded by drip stands and monitors, as doctors in blue scrubs attended to them.
“Many injured people are being treated outside of hospitals and health clinics because the buildings were damaged,” Nugroho said.
Most of the victims were in the mountainous north and east of the island, away from the main tourist spots and coastal districts in the south and west.
Indonesia, one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, straddles the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where tectonic plates collide and many of the world’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur.